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How I Kept from Burning Out with a Side Hustle

After years of slaving on my side hustle, I found a way to bring balance back to my world. Here's my story

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How to Avoid Burnout with a Freelance Side Hustle || a white desk with a yellow watch and someone typing on a keyboard

The way we work is changing…again.

You can’t go to a get together without hearing about how someone you know is starting a side project.

They’ve got a few things they’re selling on Etsy or trying their hand at life coaching.

The fact is that almost half of all American’s claim to have a side hustle that they work on after their workday is done.

I Was One of Those People

Back in 2016, I began my own journey with side hustling.

After a pretty tough divorce, I found myself in need of extra income to provide for me and my 3 daughters as a single dad.

The tough thing was I knew I couldn’t ask my employer for a raise. So, I had to figure something else out.

On a friend’s suggestion I looked into web design. A few online courses later and I changed the “Works At” section of my Facebook page to my new web design business.

It Took Its Toll

Thankfully, it was successful. I found an awesome way to make extra money from my couch all while my kids slept in their bedrooms.

But, after a while, it started wearing on me.

My wake up call came when I was on a work trip for my full-time job.

While my colleague was off seeing sites I was in the hotel pounding my keyboard for a client.

Then one day, on his way out to meet up with friends, he said something that rocked me:

“Chris, if you don’t change something, you’re going to self-destruct.”

Of course, I told him I was fine but I knew he was right.

I needed to make some changes. Set some boundaries and find a better rhythm to life.

How I Found Balance

So, I set out on a journey to find a way to make my work life and after work-life more sustainable.

I knew I couldn’t quit freelancing. My family needed the money and honestly, I liked the work. So, I had to figure out ways to keep me sane while also having an extra job.

Making a Schedule

One of the first things I had to do was come up with a concrete schedule for my after-hours work.

I’m a creative type. And, organization is not my strong suit. In fact, keeping a calendar actually physically hurts me.

But, I knew this was a key component for me getting my sanity back. So, I went to work.

Finding the right system was actually really helpful. I tried a lot of different ones. But, I ended up sticking with one called The 12 Week Year.

Whatever you do, don’t give up until you find something that works. Keeping an updated calendar is pivotal to making a side hustle work.

Increasing My Rates

For a long time, I was afraid to go any higher in my prices.

It wasn’t like I was the cheap option either. But, I knew I had to do something.

I figured that if I went up in prices I might get fewer clients BUT I wouldn’t need as much work.

So, I bit the bullet and DOUBLED MY RATES.

When I do something, I go all in.

Here’s the thing though, the work didn’t slow down. In fact, I got more requests than before!

But, now, I knew I could be pickier with the clients I worked with.

I would pass on a lot of projects until the perfect ones came around.

This cut down my work hours and made the projects I did so much more enjoyable!

Being Realistic

If you’re like me, you’re prone to biting off more than you can chew.

I don’t do it on purpose. I just always think I can beat the odds and the clock.

But, I am often wrong. Okay, I am 100% wrong pretty much every time.

Then I read something in Jon Acuff’s book Finish.

He encourages everyone to take their goals and cut them in half.

I know that doesn’t sound like the advice you’d normally hear from the average motivational speaker but it actually changed the game for me.

It’s become a rule of thumb. Whatever time I estimate something will take me, I double it.

This keeps me from getting discouraged when the inevitable delay happens.

You Don’t Have to Quit But…

I won’t be someone that tells you to quit your side project if you’re feeling the struggle for time and energy.

Often times, it just takes stepping back and thinking about different things you can do to make it more sustainable.

Things like making and keeping a schedule, upping your prices and being more realistic about what you can and can’t do were what I found helped me keep going.

And, hey, it’s been over a year since that fateful work trip.

So, what kind of things have you found help you keep a healthy lifestyle with your side hustle?

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